Madison College and Women LEAD are inviting the greater Madison community to celebrate heritage months with a very special speaker – Judge Kristy Yang. The Madison College Office of Equity, Inclusion and Community Engagement has announced that Judge Yang will speak Monday, April 2, noon, at Madison College.

Kashoua “Kristy” Yang defeated municipal judge Scott Wales for the open seat Milwaukee County Brach 47 last April. With that, she broke a series of barriers: Yang is the first Hmong judge in Wisconsin history, the first Hmong woman judge in the United States, and only the second Hmong judge in American history.

Yang will speak about her aspirational backstory. She came to the United States as a 6-year-old refugee from Laos with her parents. She grew up in Sheboygan, Wis., with 10 siblings, married young, divorced and worked her way through college as a single mother. Yang earned a computer science degree with honors from Lakeland College, then worked six years in customer service and supply chain logistics at Kohler, a job that required travel around the United States and abroad before going to law school.

Yang holds a law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School, numerous accolades for the work she has done, including being named Super Lawyers Rising Star from 2013 to 2016. Before she became a judge, Yang ran her own law firm in Milwaukee, practicing family law, worker’s compensation, and social security and disability law.

“If you’ve ever been through a situation where you feel so vulnerable and that your future is in the hands of other people, it really motivates you,” Yang said in an interview with Madison365 last year. “Once you’ve had an opportunity to appreciate that and feel it in your fiber, it really motivates you to do things that maybe at one time you didn’t think you were capable of doing. That’s the reason I continue to do the work I do representing individuals and affecting the daily lives of people.”